It is an economical and cultural center, and is the hub of the country's communication and transport network. The country's second most populous city, Mashhad , has a population of around 3. About 15 to 20 million pilgrims visit the shrine every year. Isfahan has a population of around 2. It is the capital of the province of Isfahan , and was also the third capital of the Safavid Empire. It is home to a wide variety of historical sites, including the famous Shah Square , Siosepol , and the churches at the Armenian district of New Julfa.
It is also home to the world's seventh largest shopping mall , Isfahan City Center. The fourth most populous city of Iran, Karaj , has a population of around 1. It is a major industrial city in Iran, with large factories producing sugar, textiles, wire, and alcohol. With a population of around 1. It was the first capital of the Safavid Empire, and is now the capital of the province of East Azerbaijan. It is also considered the country's second major industrial city after Tehran. Shiraz , with a population of around 1. It is the capital of the province of Fars , and was also the capital of Iran under the reign of the Zand dynasty.
It is located near the ruins of Persepolis and Pasargadae , two of the four capitals of the Achaemenid Empire.
The political system of the Islamic Republic is based on the Constitution. The regime in Iran is undemocratic,   has frequently persecuted and arrested critics of the government and its Supreme Leader, and severely restricts the participation of candidates in popular elections as well as other forms of political activity. The Leader of the Revolution "Supreme Leader" is responsible for delineation and supervision of the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Through this process, known as Tanfiz validation , the Leader agrees to the outcome of the presidential election.
All of Iran's ambassadors to Arab countries, for example, are chosen by the Quds Corps, which directly reports to the Supreme Leader. The Supreme Leader is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, controls the military intelligence and security operations, and has sole power to declare war or peace. The Assembly of Experts elects and dismisses to date, never did the Supreme Leader on the basis of qualifications and popular esteem. For example, Khamenei publicly called then-member of the Assembly of Experts Ahmad Azari Qomi a traitor, resulting in Qomi's arrest and eventual dismissal from the Assembly of Experts.
Another instance is when Khamenei indirectly called Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani a traitor for a statement he made, resulting Rafsanjani to retract it. Presidential candidates and parliamentary candidates must be approved by the Guardian Council all members of which are directly or indirectly elected by the Leader or the Leader before running, in order to ensure their allegiance to the Supreme Leader. The Leader can also revert the decisions of the Guardian Council.
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After the Supreme Leader, the Constitution defines the President of Iran as the highest state authority. The Leader also has the power to dismiss the elected president anytime. The President is responsible for the implementation of the constitution, and for the exercise of executive powers in implementing the decrees and general policies as outlined by the Supreme Leader, except for matters directly related to the Supreme Leader, who has the final say in all matters. The procedures for presidential election and all other elections in Iran are outlined by the Supreme Leader.
The President appoints the ministers, subject to the approval of the Parliament, as well as the approval of the Supreme Leader, who can dismiss or reinstate any of the ministers at any time, regardless of the decisions made by the President or the Parliament.
The legislature of Iran, known as the Islamic Consultative Assembly , is a unicameral body comprising members elected for four-year terms. All parliamentary candidates and all legislation from the assembly must be approved by the Guardian Council. The Guardian Council comprises twelve jurists, including six appointed by the Supreme Leader.
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Others are elected by the Parliament, from among the jurists nominated by the Head of the Judiciary. If a law is deemed incompatible with the constitution or Sharia Islamic law , it is referred back to the Parliament for revision. The Supreme Leader appoints the head of the country's judiciary, who in turn appoints the head of the Supreme Court and the chief public prosecutor.
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The decisions of the revolutionary courts are final and cannot be appealed. The Special Clerical Court handles crimes allegedly committed by clerics , although it has also taken on cases involving laypeople. The Special Clerical Court functions independently of the regular judicial framework, and is accountable only to the Supreme Leader. The Court's rulings are final and cannot be appealed. The officially stated goal of the government of Iran is to establish a new world order based on world peace , global collective security , and justice.
Since , Iran's nuclear program has become the subject of contention with the international community, mainly the United States. Many countries have expressed concern that Iran's nuclear program could divert civilian nuclear technology into a weapons program. This has led the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions against Iran which had further isolated Iran politically and economically from the rest of the global community. In , the U. Director of National Intelligence said that Iran, if choosing to, would not be able to develop a nuclear weapon until As of [update] , the government of Iran maintains diplomatic relations with 99 members of the United Nations,  but not with the United States , and not with Israel —a state which Iran's government has derecognized since the Revolution.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has two types of armed forces: Iran also has around , Reserve Force, totaling around , trained troops. The government of Iran has a paramilitary, volunteer militia force within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps , called the Basij , which includes about 90, full-time, active-duty uniformed members. Up to 11 million men and women are members of the Basij who could potentially be called up for service. The government of Iran supports the military activities of its allies in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon Hezbollah with military and financial aid.
Iran controlled over 70, troops deployed in Syria. Since the Revolution, to overcome foreign embargoes, the government of Iran has developed its own military industry, produced its own tanks , armored personnel carriers , missiles , submarines , military vessels, missile destroyer , radar systems, helicopters , and fighter planes. Iran's economy is a mixture of central planning , state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures. The Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for developing and maintaining the Iranian rial , which serves as the country's currency.
The government doesn't recognize trade unions other than the Islamic labour councils , which are subject to the approval of employers and the security services. The objective is to move towards free market prices in a 5-year period and increase productivity and social justice. The administration continues to follow the market reform plans of the previous one, and indicates that it will diversify Iran's oil-reliant economy.
Iran has also developed a biotechnology , nanotechnology , and pharmaceutical industry. Currently, the government is trying to privatize these industries , and, despite successes, there are still several problems to be overcome, such as the lagging corruption in the public sector and lack of competitiveness. In , Iran was ranked 69, out of nations, in the Global Competitiveness Report.
Iran has leading manufacturing industries in the fields of automobile manufacture, transportation, construction materials, home appliances, food and agricultural goods, armaments, pharmaceuticals, information technology, and petrochemicals in the Middle East. Economic sanctions against Iran , such as the embargo against Iranian crude oil, have affected the economy. Although tourism declined significantly during the war with Iraq, it has been subsequently recovered. Over five million tourists visited Iran in the fiscal year of —, four percent more than the previous year.
Alongside the capital, the most popular tourist destinations are Isfahan , Mashhad , and Shiraz. In , Iran ranked 68th in tourism revenues worldwide. Iran has the world's second largest proved gas reserves after Russia , with It also ranks fourth in oil reserves with an estimated ,,, barrels. In the early s, industry infrastructure was increasingly inefficient because of technological lags. Few exploratory wells were drilled in In , a large share of Iran's natural gas reserves were untapped.
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The addition of new hydroelectric stations and the streamlining of conventional coal and oil-fired stations increased installed capacity to 33, megawatts. In , Iran opened its first wind-powered and geothermal plants, and the first solar thermal plant was to come online in Iran is the world's third country to have developed GTL technology. The government's goal of 53, megawatts of installed capacity by is to be reached by bringing on line new gas-fired plants , and adding hydropower and nuclear power generation capacity.
Iran's first nuclear power plant at Bushire went online in Education in Iran is highly centralized. K—12 is supervised by the Ministry of Education , and higher education is under the supervision of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
The adult literacy rated The completion of the pre-university course earns students the Pre-University Certificate. Iran has increased its publication output nearly tenfold from through , and has been ranked first in terms of output growth rate, followed by China. Iran placed its domestically built satellite Omid into orbit on the 30th anniversary of the Revolution, on 2 February ,  through its first expendable launch vehicle Safir , becoming the ninth country in the world capable of both producing a satellite and sending it into space from a domestically made launcher.
The Iranian nuclear program was launched in the s.
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Iran is the seventh country to produce uranium hexafluoride , and controls the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Iranian scientists outside Iran have also made some major contributions to science. In , Ali Javan co-invented the first gas laser , and fuzzy set theory was introduced by Lotfi A.
Furthering research and treatment of diabetes, the HbA1c was discovered by Samuel Rahbar. Iranian physics is especially strong in string theory , with many papers being published in Iran. In August , Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman, as well as the first Iranian, to receive the Fields Medal , the highest prize in mathematics. Iran is a diverse country, consisting of numerous ethnic and linguistic groups that are unified through a shared Iranian nationality.
Iran hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world, with more than one million refugees, mostly from Afghanistan and Iraq.
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